Thanks so much for putting up with my silly videos. I love and appreciate every single one of you.
Thanks so much for putting up with my silly videos. I love and appreciate every single one of you.
Recently I lost my amazingly compassionate dog, Loki. Words cannot even begin to explain our history and how meaningful it was. Yes, even with a dog you can have a meaningful relationship. Though his life was short it was no less meaningful. He was family in the truest sense.
A brief history on how we found each other, he was a rescue from a shelter in Fresno. I would be spending the summer up in the High Sierra so what a better time to have a companion! I wasn’t really expecting to find a dog I’d fall in love with at the very first shelter I went to. I wanted to find the right one that I really connected with. But lo and behold I see him curled up in a ball in the very back corner. He made himself so small that I barely even noticed him back there and almost walked right on by. But something made me do a double take and I asked if they could bring him out.
He was a bit shy at first and you could tell depression had set in from being at the shelter a few weeks. But once he started feeling comfortable he was all play all day. I didn’t realize just how much energy he would have though, as it didn’t become known until he was fully in his comfort zone, when I finally brought him home. But I must have known on some level because the first name that came to me was Loki, the name of the Norse God of Mischief. And boy, was that a fitting name for him.
Up in the Sierras, I don’t think Loki had ever been outside of Fresno. He was in awe of his surroundings, chasing butterflies and bugs, or rather, he was chasing the shadows most of the time. It was a pretty funny site to see the butterfly above his head while he looked at the dirt chasing after it’s shadow. I loved seeing him happy and curious of everything. I loved observing him and his awe of the world. It reminded me of my own view of the world and to constantly see the beauty in everything, no matter how seemly insignificant. We’d go deep into the back country and he would run around probably doing triple the amount of miles I was and his tail was wagging the whole time. At night we’d lay next to each other and no matter how hard I tried to avoid it (okay, a couple times I didn’t try that hard) he would always end up in my sleeping bag by morning, curled up next to me. After we left the Sierras we had an amazing year traveling mostly around the West Coast and Southwest. We had traveled as far north as Oregon, hanging out in Bend for a van gathering, then all the way down near the Mexico border in a place called Slab City where he got to roam around and play with other dogs and learned how to be a good guard dog. When the Slabs got too hot we went all the way up to Idaho, spending time in the Sawtooth National forest, then traveled down to New Mexico to visit family. He loved being in the van and would be in the passenger seat most of the time, looking out the window at all the scenery from place to place. Finally, we ended up in San Francisco, CA and there he had a whole new type of terrain to get used to with it’s many vehicles and people. But the weekends and most evenings I took him to the beach where we could both pretend we were out of the city for awhile, exploring like usual.
Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with Lymphoma about two weeks before he passed. And let me tell you, I have never had to deal with a cancer that was so aggressive. In a matter of a couple weeks, yes a couple WEEKS!, he had went from a playful energetic dog, to a dog that could hardly get a full breath and barely able to walk. It had all started with a small wheezing, seeming to be a minor respiratory infection. I didn’t expect much from the vet visit but thought I’d get him checked out. Make sure he wasn’t choking. That one visit opened my eyes to something that I had no idea had been festering. Through X-ray and Ultrasound they found that Loki, had a tumor the size of a fist growing inside his lungs. This tumor was pushing against his heart, pushing it back a few centimeters. His lymph nodes were swollen in his chest and abdomen and fluid filled his lungs. That of which I had tapped to help his breathing, pulling out around 2 1/2 cups of fluid. The fluid tap helped a ton and partnered with a steroid injection and continued steroid pills I gave him twice a day he almost seemed himself again. But that boost in health was temporary and there was no option to save him from the cancer. Only ways of delaying the inevitable and with not much guarantee that he would feel good throughout that time. Luckily, Thanksgiving was getting close and the urge to go south kept calling me. So we had one last van adventure together down to Parker, AZ where there was a gathering of travelers.
He had a great few days there. Running around exploring, sniffing everything. For a moment I, and I think even he, forgot he was dying. His tail wagging, chasing butterfly shadows on our morning walks in the desert. But as the days passed he ventured less and less, staying closer to me, not even running around. Just a growing struggle to breathe. The night before Thanksgiving, was rough. He couldn’t get comfortable and his breath was fast paced, heart racing all night. In the early morning, we went outside. Getting out of the van was a struggle and he immediately laid down, desperate for a full breath. We sat there together, his head on my lap, watching the sunrise. For that moment together his breathing was still rough, but seemed to ease up a bit. Slightly smoother.
Our morning walk he stayed close to me and had to stop a few times to lay down and catch his ever elusive breath. By mid day, as we were getting ready to do our Thanksgiving lunch with friends, I had to help him up to walk to the table. He could barely take a few steps at a time before having to lay down again and again and again. In my heart, I knew I couldn’t let this go on any longer.
At the pet hospital it was quiet. But his breathing was frantic. I was able to be with him and comfort him and cuddle him. When they came in to inject him, I was there holding him close to me, his head nestled into my cupped hands. As they began, I kept his attention on me. We looked into each others’ eyes. I could see the distress in his gaze. And I hoped, through my tears that he could see the love in mine. “I love you Loki butt. I love you so much.” Slowly, his breathing got more and more relaxed, like he was finally able to breath. “I love you so so much.” The distress fading from his gaze. “Such a good boy. So strong.” His breath stopped. His eyes were still staring into mine, but now there was no distress, no pain. “I love you…” He seemed so at peace now. So calm. Everyone left the room and I laid with him for awhile, just the two of us. Like when we were in the van and it was early morning and he would hop up on my bed and cuddle me. I longed for him to play with my hair like he did in the mornings and stretch his legs out as if to push me off my own bed. Then proceed to paw at me in an effort to get me up. “I love you, Loki.”
Loki’s passing was a huge reminder to me about the nature of life. It’s easy to fall into routine and feel secure in our day to day actions. We become accustomed to what is familiar to us and we gain that attitude of “that will never happen to me.” But then something happens that shakes our world and we’re bluntly faced with that fact that as much as we’d like to be, we’re really not in control. You can plan and plan and plan some more but at the end of the day, something will happen that you never expected. That you never planned for. And as someone who has a tendency to worry about, well, pretty much everything, it’s important to keep in mind this idea of impermanence. The faster we can accept this fact of life the easier it will be to move with the flow of life. Smoothly moving with ebbs and winding flow of the river instead of abruptly crashing against rocks all the way down. Yes, this is an end of a monumental and life changing era. My time with Loki meant so much to me and that relationship has helped me grow in so many ways. But it is also a new beginning of possibilities! And it’s important to remember that other side of the spectrum.
This isn’t to say that we cannot grieve or be sad in these moments of big change, especially ones like this. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We need to feel those feelings to the fullest. Grieve, cry, be upset, heck, through a tantrum. Feel It ALL. But once you’ve gotten it all out there….. take a deep breath…. and keep… moving… forward…
My mother has told me throughout my life in moments where I’ve felt like my my world was falling in on itself, “Well what are you gonna do? Just lay down and die?” And my internal reply had always been, “Well, I guess that’s not really, logistically speaking, a doable option so… what’s next?” Though, I’m sure my external response has always been more tears. But the words always stuck. What are you going to do? The world doesn’t stop just because your world feels like it’s imploding. You may not have control over what is happening to you, but you do have control over how you react and respond.
So when you’ve gotten out the feelings and emotions that you need to get out (and you’ll still have those moments from time to time), come back to a place of love. As hokey as that may sound, it’s true. For me, I still think about Loki a lot. I still feel the pain and I’ll even admit that I still cry sometimes about him being gone. I cried writing this post. But I don’t let that sadness envelop and overpower me. If anything I use it as power to keep moving forward. How he went from healthy and happy to sick and in pain was so quick. I was lucky to get that last trip in with him when I did. But we’re not always given that luxury of having one last trip, one last conversation with a loved one, one last meaningful experience. Sometimes it’s abrupt and messy and unfair. So knowing that, and really really understanding that. That’s power! Have those experiences. Now. Do those things you’ve been putting off. Now. Stop procrastinating (this one is a big one for me). NOW. Bring those ideas intro fruition. Because if you never get around to doing these things now, they will never exist. And no one else will do them quite like you will.
So Bob from CheapRVLiving.com invited me to write a guest post for him about making your own website. Bob and his site have been very helpful in my nomadic journey. Especially when I was first starting out. So it is a great pleasure and honor to write about something I know for his blog.
I tried to give some very helpful and useful information to all those who are just starting to figure out how to build a website. What’s even more awesome is you can build a website without spending a dime! Whether it be a blog or a monetized machine, I hope you can find some good information on it. And add your questions in the comments section. Happy website building!!
No matter what weird interactions happen at the RTR, the sometimes petty things that go on; little disagreements here and there, the occasional odd vibe from somebody or a situation. I even felt a wave of sadness around the beginning, hearing how some connections had ended, how the whole vibe of the RTR had changed. How it always seems to change, especially to those who have been here since the beginning.
But looking through all of that, this place is something special. This is my yearly pilgrimage to reacquaint myself with my own wants, needs, and desires. It’s not just the amazing souls I happen to meet and connect with. Though, that is a huge part of it. The connections I’ve made with people here, the truly authentic conversations I’ve had with people here will resonate with me my entire life.
But more than that, this is an opportunity to remind myself why I’m doing this. Why I decide to live the way I do. The freedom of being able to wake up in a new place everyday or stay if I so decide. The ability to have new adventures in new places and with new people. The freedom of so much choice can at times be debilitating. Having so many options of where I’d like to go and who I’d like to see can sometimes lead me to just staying put. It reminds me of the book The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. An in depth look at how–in the context of consumerism–there are so many choices in say something like buying salad dressing, the overwhelming amount of options out there can be, well… overwhelming. Obviously this is something entirely different than buying salad dressing but that deer caught in the headlights effect is still there.
On the flip side of that, it’s very telling of how modern society, with all it’s grandiose technology and simplifying everything down to the point of pressing a button for coffee or music or even driving, has created a cushiony, nonabrasive way of facilitating no decision making at all. We have alarms that wake us up in the morning, our morning routines of coffee and making ourselves presentable to the world. Our daily routines commuting to work by taking the train, bus or driving then sitting at a desk all day. Our evening routines of getting out of work and relaxing with friends or maybe hitting the gym. And then we do it all again the next day. And the next. It’s easy to fall into that groundhog’s day effect of doing the same thing all the time that at a point we forget we even have a choice in the matter. And the things that people tell us, about their idea of what it means to be successful, about how you have to go to college in order to support yourself, that getting married and buying a house and a white picket fence is your life goal, all of this just re-enforces that feeling of not having choice of what to do with your own life.
Once you can break that cycle, the whole world can and will open up to you. Suddenly you have so many options that you never even considered before. And with this new realization comes the universe bringing people and experiences into your life that support that open mindedness. I have friends who travel to other countries when they get enough vacation time. I have friends that travel full time across the globe while they work. I have friends who are weekend warriors and take their done up conversion vans out on trips every weekend. I have friends who have been like gypsies, going to many different places working many different types of jobs their whole lives, never once working a typical 9 to 5.
I guess what I’m getting at is that there is no right way to do anything in this world. We know the most common way, the easiest solution and, hey, that obviously works for a lot of people which is why it’s considered the norm. But some of those people are just blindly following an idea of what they are told they should be that they don’t ever stop to notice that they actually have a say in the matter.
Here at the RTR, it’s two weeks that I get to spend with other like minded people who all are doing things their own way. It goes beyond the whole vehicle living movement. It’s in the small details of how their living in their vehicles. From their choice of vehicle (no joke one guy lives in a semi truck) to how they’ve set it up or built it out. Every rig I see, it’s an extension of the people living in them. The things that matter to them or are important to them, you see it in the rigs they’ve set up. Yes we all, or at least most of the people I’ve met, are full timers. But that’s just about where the similarities end.
Being here at the RTR is one big mindful moment. I acknowledge it. I give it space. I breath in all the experiences from this last year, both good and bad, and create intentions for the year to come. I don’t know where my path will lead me. I don’t have it all figured out. I’m not even sure where I’ll be next week. But wherever it is and whatever I do, I’m sure as hell going to be enjoying the ride.
Hey guys! I’m famous. Okay not really but my interview I did at the RTR is finally up. Please check it out and let me know what you think. Already getting some great feedback on Youtube and via email. I will do my best to respond to everyone I can.
So I’ve seen so many awesome vans over the last year while traveling around in my own van. It inspired me to show just how much of a growing community we are by capturing these beauties in their “natural habitat” as well as show some of my own awesome adventure. Follow my new Instagram @van.gypsy! Don’t forget to tag, direct message, and add me to comments so I can check out some of your awesomeness as well, please!!
I’ve gone back and forth on getting a pet for a long time. There are many pros and cons to it in a normal living situation. But van life just adds to the list. From what kind of dog to get to how to make a small living space work with another body to how it affects travel plans in the future to how it affects work plans right now. Still with all the (over-) thinking I did on it, getting a pet was still something that I yearned for. I wanted a travel buddy. A partner in crime. Someone I could see grow and enjoy the world…. and was easier than a child. Because, lets be real, I’m not at that stage yet.
I didn’t want to make any rash decisions either. I wanted to find the right pet. One who fit my personality. One who had energy to go out adventuring in the world but also could kick back and relax. This wasn’t gonna be an easy find. I tend to be picky. Well…. at least I thought…
I went to one shelter in Fresno. I saw a cute black lab mix and instantly felt a connection with him. We played and though he was timid at the shelter, I knew he had a big personality once he opened up. I was shocked to find a dog like him so soon. I figured it would take months to find one that I connected with. I didn’t think I’d find one that seems to be just as much of a goofball as I am.
Having him has changed everything in the most positive of ways. Yes, there’s more responsibility. Yes, there’s a budget change and a lifestyle change. But words cannot express how fucking amazing he is and while I spend time in the High Sierra, I cannot tell you how much it makes me laugh to see this guy chase butterflies.
Do you have any pets? How has it changed the way you travel?
That’s it! I’m official. I am no longer a Cali resident. Thanks to the help of Bob Wells and his blog on CheapRVLiving.com, I am now officially a Pahrump, NV resident. Was fun to spend a week there and spent time with some other “Rubber Trampers” while I got I it all sorted. Can’t tell ya how fun it was to play COD Zombies again with my new buddy Bryce. I still have my old system in storage but Bryce has a friggin cargo trailer Man Cave, were he has enough solar power to run a big screen and an Xbox. Who said you have to give up life’s pleasures because you travel.
And the sunsets… if you follow my Insta you’ve probably noticed I was loving those sunsets.
I had my own ways of getting everything I needed for my residency switch. Not sure how much I’d want to go into detail about it publicly, but it you have any questions regarding residency for full time travelers feel free to email me directly. Though your best bet is to check out CheapRVLiving.com as there is a wealth of knowledge on the subject there.